Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Baking Cocoa – 10.5 Ounce
Pros: Just okay when used as a base for a hot chocolate beverage. Makes the case for convenience vs. practicality for the non-baker.
Cons: Sugar is the first listed ingredient – a condition not clearly indicated on the product’s front panel. Product contains Dutch Process vs. Natural cocoa. Contains the emulsifier Soy Lecithin.
Trips to the grocery store become routine when food allergies are an issue. Since its inception, my secret chocolate cake recipe has benefited greatly from the inclusion of Hershey’s Natural Cocoa. With this product currently out-of-stock, I noticed the elegant gold presence of Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa adjacent to the Hershey’s empty parking spot. Assuming the titular reference to ‘sweet’ was on-par with ‘semi-sweet’, I decided to give it a try.
When the time came to bake, I re-discovered the need to read labels on unfamiliar products. My initial belief that the front panel indicated 100% ground cocoa was in error. The ‘sweet’ was in fact a reference to the dominance of refined white sugar – with Dutch Process cocoa listed as the second ingredient.
For those unfamiliar, Dutch Process is a method of making Natural cocoa less acidic by treating it with a chemical alkali. This action has been shown to cause a significant reduction in the cocoa’s flavanol content – those antioxidant enablers that make natural (especially dark) chocolate the ultimate healthy, heavenly treat. While it has yet to cause an adverse reaction, many of the Dutch Process cocoas on the market also display a mild chemical aftertaste that is not otherwise found in premium Natural Process cocoa. Fortunately, the negative effect achieved is more aesthetic than allergic.
In my world, the method of choice when constructing a winning cup of hot cocoa is simple – in a heat-proof bowl, take chunks of premium dark and semi-sweet chocolate immersed in milk, add a pinch of sea salt and apply heat. Whisk thoroughly to incorporate, while adding a tablespoon of powdered natural cocoa. Heat an additional minute and whisk once again before serving.
The Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa reviewed here contains enough added sugar to require recipe revisions in the form of the Unsweetened Cocoa Substitution recommendation found on the back label: “For each half cup Unsweetened Cocoa, use one cup of Sweet Ground Cocoa and decrease the amount of sugar the recipe calls for by one-half cup”. Despite followed this confection correction when I assembled the next chocolate cake, the result was slightly sweeter than anticipated.
In my opinion, the Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa was too sweet for my baking needs, or for brewing a quality pot of hot chocolate, so I used the remainder of the 10.5 ounce package to make a glaze for the chocolate cake – where the excess sugar content could be more easily regulated by the unsweetened chocolate. According to the Nutrition Facts located on the rear panel, one serving (3 Tablespoons) equals 27 grams of sugar. Since a teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams, this indicates that 7 of the 9 teaspoons of product contained in a single serving constitute sugar.
Also located on the back panel is a recipe for Ghirardelli Award Winning Brownies. I am a big fan of their superior brownie mixes – especially the Double Chocolate variety. Question is – with such a convenient boxed brownie bonanza at hand, why bother fussing with a recipe? Some things simply cannot be improved upon. Ghirardelli also excels with its line of Milk, Semi-Sweet and Dark Chocolate Chips.
I’m sure, as with any marketed product, there exists a legion of satisfied customers who enjoy Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa – as long as we all take the time to read the label and know what we’re buying.
Distributed by Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
San Leandro, CA 94578 U.S.A.